Written by Andrew Ward

FEMALE sport stars across West Dunbartonshire have spoken of their hopes to “inspire” more women to take part in physical activities.

Lauren Ecclestone and Amy Boyd have described the impact sport has had on their lives from a young age, and now want to encourage more women to follow suit.

The pair were speaking as part of the celebration of Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week, which featured the inspirational achievements of some of West Dunbartonshire’s female sporting starts.

Lauren, who has volunteered with West Dunbartonshire Leisure for seven years, has fully embraced the opportunities provided by volunteering and has developed her coaching and communication skills as well as meeting a lot of new people.

She said: “I love the challenges for learning, taking part and succeeding in sport. Sport is relatively male-dominated but more and more emphasis is being given to women’s sport and it is this change which is inspiring me and helping me inspire other young women to take their chance to succeed at whatever they want to do in life.”

Amy, who is a lead sports coach for West Dunbartonshire Leisure and also plays a massive role within the local primary school sports clubs, echoed Lauren’s views.

She said: “Sport has always had a massive impact on my life. The power it has to bring people together and to create a passion within people’s lives is the reason I love it so much.

“I was delighted to be involved in the Women’s and Girls in Sports Week because I want to inspire other females to get involved and receive the same opportunities and experiences as I have.”

Other athletes who have been praised by the local authorities include:

Rebecca McAllister: Rebecca started playing football when she was four years old, attending Mini Kickers sessions at the Meadow Centre in Dumbarton.

All of the hard work and training has paid off as she now plays for Celtic FC’s women’s team and is part of the Scotland under-19 women’s national squad.

Lorna Smith: Lorna is the Aquatics Development Officer for West Dunbartonshire Leisure and has had an inspirational swimming journey.

From competing for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 to studying Sport and Exercise Science at University, she now manages the local Learn to Swim programme.

Rachel Sugden: A full-time student, Rachel started playing badminton when she was eight years old. She is now a member of the senior Scotland national badminton squad and was previously part of West Dunbartonshire’s “talented sports performer” scheme.

Ashley Ryan: Dancing Queen Ashley has inspired thousands of children and young people across West Dunbartonshire over the past few years.

Her lifelong passion for dance has transitioned into a fantastic career as a dance instructor and she now runs her own dance school.

Ashley also delivers extra-curricular school dance clubs across West Dunbartonshire and has choreographed and coached several routines for schools at the WD School Games Dance Festivals.

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Leisure said: “We were delighted to celebrate the passion and dedication of the women and girls who participate in sport and physical activity across West Dunbartonshire during Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Week, 2020.

“These pupils, coaches, staff and volunteers, alongside the many others involved, are a true inspiration and highlight the positive impact physical activity has within our communities.”

To find out more about local sporting opportunities for children, see west-dunbarton.gov.uk/wdleisure.